Video Clip on Our Field Research
The first part of the video clip is dedicated to an archaeological survey of the medieval Jewish cemetery in Yeghegis, Armenia. When it comes to medieval Jewish history, Armenia is an enigma. Several medieval Jewish communities are documented in the nearby regions of Iran and Asia Minor, and probably existed in neighboring Georgia as well. But what about Armenia itself? Surprisingly, very little evidence for the existence of Jews in medieval Armenia has survived, despite this region being, in a manner of speaking, surrounded by Jewish communities, and traversed by central trade routes.
It is this mystery that makes the medieval Jewish cemetery at Yeghegis, Armenia, such an important site. It is the only place in Armenia where archaeological finds shedding light on medieval Jews who lived in the country were found. The JewsEast team took part in an expedition aimed at wide-scale exploration and documentation of the cemetery and its surroundings.
The second part of the video clip is dedicated to an archaeological survey of Beta Israel (Ethiopian Jewish) monasteries in the Semien Mountains, Ethiopia. The JewsEast research team is attempting to shed light on the little-known phenomenon of Ethiopian Jewish monasticism. Monasticism is something commonly associated with Christianity or Buddhism rather than Judaism, but the Ethiopian Jews had a monastic movement. Their monks were their most important religious leaders. They trained and consecrated the priests, and shaped the Ethiopian Jewish religious tradition.
How was Ethiopian Jewish monasticism practiced? In what ways was it different from, and in what ways similar to other monastic movements? What was an Ethiopian Jewish monastery shaped like, and how did the monks live within it? To answer these questions, the JewsEast team embarked on an expedition aimed at finding and studying the remains of the Ethiopian Jewish monasteries in the Semien Mountains, the highest mountains in Ethiopia.